Freckle IoT, an ad tech company focused on connected devices, is announcing a partnership with Blue Bite, a leader in mobile beacon technology for the retail industry. The partnership strings 60,000 beacons together, creating by far North America’s largest proximity network for retail.
The mobile and offline marketing implications for this partnership are potentially huge, provided the merger can successfully create a unified platform on which retailers and advertisers can build advertising products that are measurable and reliable.
Wait, what’s a beacon?
Beacons are small sensors that can trigger specific events when another sensor (e.g., your smartphone) passes through its range. They’re a clear, actionable way for brands and retailers to interact with consumers in physical locations. A 60,000 beacon network represents potentially a dominant mobile engagement ecosystem unto itself.
According to Reveal, a mobile audience insights company, there’s only around 64,000 of these things total, scattered across multiple beacon manufacturers.
That number is likely an underestimation, given Reveal’s limitations in tracking every possible beacon. But it’s a valiant effort and the only of its kind.
It’s interesting to note that 9,304 beacons, or a full 14.5% of them, reside in Apple retail locations.
The Freckle and Blue Bite partnership is still in its beginning stages, but it makes for some interesting new opportunities for brands to engage consumers in awfully specific, personal, and even physical ways.
“Brands now have the ability to understand their customers better, measure effectiveness, and have the ability to personalize offers,” Freckle IoT CEO Neil Sweeney told VentureBeat in an email. “Retailers will be able to analyze their path to purchase by attributing advertising to store visits and provide an extensive personal experience for shoppers.”
Mixing offline data with physical retail door swings is going to provide marketers with critical context to better inform and parse top of the funnel customer data like never before.
In the meantime, consumers can expect all sorts of push notification “beacon activations” in the form of hyper-targeted messages. For example, a convenience store chain will be able to offer free products to highly specific audiences walking by. Or a sporting event or concert will be able to activate beacons to send attendees exclusive content. That doesn’t even scratch the surface for beacon technology use cases. Developers worldwide are building apps in commercial industries like education, healthcare, transportation, and hospitality. Business Insider is predicting over 4 million beacons in the US alone by 2018, with 85% of retailers employing beacon technology by 2016 (compared to 8% in 2014).
“These new technologies give everyone so much opportunity,” Sweeney said. “Consumers will receive more relevant offers from brands…mobile publishers and apps will bring additional value to their users, and a new funnel of monetization and robust targeting metrics for existing channels like display [will emerge].”
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